Arts & Entertainment

Diverse student body pursue their dreams at Argentina’s Tango University

By Julieta Barrera

Buenos Aires, Jul 13 (efe-epa).- An art form that emerged in the working-class port neighborhoods of Buenos Aires at the turn of the 20th century, tango now is taught at numerous academies in the Argentine capital and even at a “university” that offers in-depth courses to people of all ability levels, ages, social classes and nationalities.

The Tango Educational Center of Buenos Aires (Cetba), an informal educational space that is part of the capital Educational Ministry’s “lifelong learning” area and is popularly known as “Tango University,” was founded in 1991 by renowned dancers Gloria and Rodolfo Dinzel.

The Dinzels developed a teaching method that includes more than 400 tango figures, which are progressively ordered in a system of choreographic notation.

Even so, Eric Dinzel, director of Cetba’s program on tango dance instruction, a teacher at the center for 12 years and son of the founders, told Efe that the system is taught with an “understanding that the ulterior aim of this dance is creativity and improvisation.”

Cetba is a space where professionals and amateurs from all over the world intermingle.

“From 18-year-old kids who finished high school and want to be tango instructors to people over the age of 80 who now are in another moment of their lives but are interested in, are passionate about, tango and are now studying,” Dinzel said.

Cetba also attracts large numbers of people from abroad, he added.

Individuals from all five continents have studied at the center, while foreign students make up between 20 percent and 25 percent of enrollees every year and in 2019 foreign students represented 40 percent of Tango University’s graduates.

That sharp increase in the school’s foreign population began six years ago when an agreement with Argentina’s National Migration Department cleared the way for Cetba students to apply for an academic visa.

People make their way to Argentina for many reasons.

“Generally it’s people who leave absolutely everything behind in their homeland to come to Buenos Aires, settle here and devote themselves 100 percent to studying tango,” Dinzel said.

Case in point is Samuele Ravaioli, a 51-year-old Italian sound engineer who stumbled upon tango virtually by accident when he traveled for work to the northeast Argentine province of Corrientes.

A few free days spent in the Argentine capital and a tango show were all it took for him to fall in love with that dance form, and not long afterward he discovered Cetba.

“What’s so great about Cetba is the principle ‘all together for the love of tango.’ It’s then up to each person to decide how in-depth their study is. They may be studying just because they like tango, or because they want to make tango their profession,” said Ravaioli, who completed the program in tango dance instruction in 2019.

He currently is pursuing a second course of study – in Italy, due to the pandemic – on tango arts, a program that includes the following components: history, lyrics, musical composition and poetics.

Like educational institutions worldwide, Cetba has been forced to shift to a distance-learning model during the pandemic and currently is providing remote instruction to nearly 500 students.

“Students and teachers alike, week after week, are learning to find a language, a way,” said Gabriel Soria, director of the tango arts area, a Cetba instructor for the past 15 years and president of the Tango Academy.

But remote learning is no substitute for face-to-face instruction, particularly in the area of tango dance instruction.

“There’s a part that’s not viable about working from home and online, because there’s no encounter, there’s no forging of bonds, embracing one another and working from there … that’ll have to wait until there’s physical presence” once again, Dinzel said. EFE-EPA

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